Dr Sean Sturm

PhD, MA (Hons), PGCertAcadPrac


Sean is of German, Russian, English and Māori descent. He affiliates with Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa (Ngāti Rakapaaka). Before he began study at the University of Auckland, he was a songwriter and musician.

He majored in Philosophy and English for his BA (1999) and MA (2001), and in English for his PhD (2009). His thesis, supervised by Alex Calder and Wystan Crunow, took New Zealand colonial engineer and novelist George Chamier as exemplary of the ambivalent figure of the "unsettled settler," complicit in but critical of the colonial enterprise. It was titled "Chamier the Epicurean: The Life and Works of George Chamier (1842-1915)."

He taught before, during and after his doctoral studies in the Writing Studies programme in the Department of English (2002-2010) and in the Creative Writing programme at the Manukau Institute of Technology (2009-2010). He joined CLeaR as a Senior Tutor in 2009, and took up a position there as a Lecturer in Academic Development in 2013. Since then, he has become Deputy Director (2015-) and now Acting Director (2018) of CLeaR.

Research | Current

Sean researches the university as a place of possibilities (Sturm & Turner, 2017), taking in several fields of higher education research:

  • the philosophy of education,
  • critical university studies,
  • critical pedagogy,
  • writing studies,
  • settler studies,
  • post-qualitative/arts-based methodology, and
  • indigenous methodologies.

Funded research projects

2018-19: (co-PI) Pathways to the Past: Effective Pedagogies for Māori and Pasifika Students in the Historical Disciplines. Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI). (With 'Ema Wolfgramm-Foliaki [UoA], Hinekura Lisa Smith [UoA], Nancy November [UoA].) NZD200,000

2018: (PI) Rethinking dissent in the university. Education FDRF. NZD8,241

2017-18: (AI) Enhancing future employabilty through tertiary education. Ako Aotearoa. (With Susan Geertshuis [UoA, PI], Rob Wass [UoO], Tim Watts [NZAGE], Barbara Kensington-Miller [UoA], Jennifer Curtin [UoA], Helena Cooper-Thomas [AUT], Gavin Brown [UoA], Annette Dunham [UoA], Brendon Potter [UoA], Narissa Lewis [UoA].) NZD300,000

2016: (co-PI) Historical literacy Aotearoa: The progression and engagement of Maori and Pasifika students in the historical disciplines. Education FDRF. (With Nancy November [Music], Jennifer Frost [History], Lisa Bailey [Classics & Ancient History], Martyn Davison [Pakuranga College].) NZD10,800

2015-16: (AI) Making the invisible visible: Illuminating undergraduate learning outcomes beyond content and skills. Ako Aotearoa. (With Barbara Kensington-Miller [UoA, PI], Alison Cleland [UoA], Alys Longley [UoA], Andrea Mead [UoA], Amanda Gilbert [Vic], Bernadette Knewstubb [Vic].) NZD300,000

2013-15: (co-PI) Mapping Institutional Resources and Processes Supporting the Development of Tertiary Learning and Teaching Grant Applications. Office of Learning and Teaching (Australia) Specific Initiative. (With Gavin Sanderson [UniSA, co-PI], Kerry Allison [Monash], Tania Broadley [Curtin], Matt Eliot [CQU], Barbara Kensington-Miller [UoA], Jan McLean [UNSW], and Jan Tuovinen [Tabor].) NZD280,000

2013-14: (AI) The Liveable University. Transforming Cities: Innovations for Sustainable Futures. WUN Urban Research Seeding Fund. (With Stephen Turner [PI], Niki Harré and Kirsten Locke from the University of Auckland.) NZD15,000


Associate Editor, Educational Philosophy and Theory

Editorial Board, Teaching in Higher Education

Editorial Board, Policy Futures in Education

College of Reviewers, Higher Education Research & Development

Regular reviewer for Australasian Journal of Educational Technology and TEXT: A Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, among other journals

Teaching | Current

Sean works primarily with academics to develop themselves as critical and creative practitioners. He coordinates the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, leading the Teaching, Learning and Assessment course (ACADPRAC 701), as well as contributing to CLeaR's Teaching Catalyst and other programmes. He also consults on curriculum review and researcher development. He is CLeaR's Faculty of Arts liaison.

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD supervisions

Tatum Adiningrum (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller) [submitted]

Mohammad Taqi Amini (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller)

Lorenz Poeschl (co-supervision with Stephen Turner)

Joshua Sarpong (co-supervision with Cathy Gunn)

Morteza Sharifi (co-supervision with Barbara Kensington-Miller)

Enni Suonio (co-supervision with Brad Coombes) [submitted]

Angela Tsai (co-supervision with Dawn Garbett) [suspended]

Current Masters supervisions

Maarten Klene (co-supervision with Marek Tesar) [submitted]

Future supervisions

Sean is looking to supervise in the following areas of higher education research:

  • the philosophy of education (especially critical theory in education)
  • critical pedagogy and critical university studies
  • learning and teaching spaces, online and "offline"
  • writing pedagogy
  • digital humanities

He is comfortable with many theoretical approaches, but has a particular focus, as his research interests suggest, on the philosophy of education and critical theory. He has expertise in qualitative and narrative methodologies, but has a particular interest in critical-creative approaches to research and writing, including autoethnography, hermeneutics and ficto-criticism.


University of Auckland Distinguished Visitor Award (2018)

Te Amorangi National Māori Academic Excellence Award (2009)

University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship (2007)

Foundation for Research, Science and Technology Bright Futures Top Achievers' Scholarship (2003)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

University service

  • Lecturers' Representative (at Large) on Senate (2013-15; 2015-17, 2018-21)
  • Sub-Professorial Member on the Education Committee (2017-18)
  • Sub-Professorial Member on the Teaching and Learning Quality Committee [TLQC] (2013-14; 2015-16; 2017-18)
  • CLeaR Faculty Liaison, Arts Faculty; Ex Officio Member, Faculty of Arts Academic Committee (2014-2017); Student Engagement and Retention Group (2018-)
  • CLeaR representative on TLQC, Staff Advisory Committee, HERD Governance Board, Faculty of Education and Social Work Senior Leadership Team (2018-)
  • CLeaR representative, Academic Audit Steering Group (2013-14)
  • Member at Large, Tertiary Education Union Branch Committee (2011-17); Academic Member, Collective Bargaining Team (2011-15; 2017)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Sturm, S. (2018). An art of orientation: The possibilities of learning spaces. In L. Benade, M. Jackson (Eds.) Transforming education: Design & governance in global contexts (pp. 135-148). Singapore: Springer.
  • Sturm, S., & Turner, S. (2018). In the wake of the quake: Teaching the emergency. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50 (5), 519-527. 10.1080/00131857.2017.1384724
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Turner
  • Roder, J., & Sturm, S. (2018). Flight from flight: Composing a pedagogy of affect. In C. Naughton, G. Biesta, D. R. Cole (Eds.) Art, artists and pedagogy: Philosophy and the arts in education (pp. 127-136). Abingdon, Oxon, UK: Routledge.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Roder
  • Turner, S., Boswell, A., Harré N, Sturm, S., Locke, K., & da Souza Correa, D. (2017). The playable university. Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, 17 (3), 673-690.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Turner, Anna Boswell, Niki Harre, Kirsten Locke
  • Sturm, S., & Turner, S. (2017). The university as a place of possibilities: Scholarship as dissensus. In S. Wright, C. Shore (Eds.) Death of the public university? Uncertain futures for higher education in the knowledge economy (pp. 296-311). New York, USA: Berghahn Books.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34331
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Turner
  • Sturm, S. R. (2017). From Aristotle to crime scene: A forensics of the academic essay. TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, 39 (Special Issue: The Essay). Related URL.
  • Harré N, Grant, B. M., Locke, K., & Sturm, S. (2017). The university as an infinite game: Revitalising activism in the academy. Australian Universities Review, 59 (2), 5-13.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Niki Harre, Barbara Grant, Kirsten Locke
  • Sturm, S. R., & Turner, S. F. (2014). Digital Caricature. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 8 (3). Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/24812
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Turner


Contact details

Primary office location

Level 4, Room 405
New Zealand

Web links